Christmas Sweets

Sugar and spice and everything nice ... 'tis the season for making and enjoying sweets. If you're like us, you look forward to the opportunity to set out plates of cookies, candy and other sweet treats for friends and family alike to enjoy. In that spirit, we're offering you some of our very favorites. Enjoy and Seasoned Greetings!

Butter Almond Crunch

  • 1 1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
  • 1 3/4 c. chopped almonds, divided
  • 1 1/2 c. ( 3 sticks) butter or margarine
  • 1 3/4 c. sugar
  • 3 T. light corn syrup
  • 3 T. water

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 13x9x2-inch pan with foil; butter the foil.

Sprinkle 1 cup of chocolate chips into the pan; set aside. Spread the chopped almonds in a shallow baking dish. Bake for about 7 minutes or until golden brown; set aside.

Melt the butter in a heavy 3-quart saucepan; blend in the sugar, corn syrup and water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, to 300 F on a candy thermometer (hard-crack stage) or until the mixture separates into hard, brittle threads when dropped into very cold water (make sure the bulb of the candy thermometer does not rest on the bottom of the saucepan). Remove the pan from the heat; stir in 1 1/2 cups toasted almonds. Immediately spread the mixture evenly over the chocolate chips in the prepared pan; do not disturb the chips. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup toasted almonds and the remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips; cool slightly.

Score the candy into 1 1/2-inch squares with a sharp knife, wiping the knife blade after drawing it though the candy. Cool completely; remove from the pan. Remove the foil; break the candy into pieces. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

  • Yields: 2 pounds candy
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Mixed Nut Brittle

  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c. firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. light corn syrup
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1 T. butter
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 c. mixed cocktail nuts

In a heavy saucepan, heat the granulated sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup and water over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar has dissolved completely.

Increase the heat to medium. Insert a candy thermometer so that it doesn't touch the bottom of the pan; cook without stirring until the syrup register 300 F.

Working quickly, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter, baking soda and nuts.

Pour the mixture immediately onto a large, lightly oiled baking sheet and spread with an oiled spatula, pulling and stretching the mixture in a thin, even layer. Place the baking sheet on a wire rack; let the candy cool completely.

When the candy has cooled, lift it from the baking sheet with a spatula and crack it into pieces.

  • Yields: 1 pound candy
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Chocolate Raspberry Creams

For the chocolate layers:

  • 12 squares (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • 2 tsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the raspberry layer:

  • 1 c. white chocolate chips
  • 1/4 c. seedless raspberry preserves

For the chocolate coating:

  • 12 squares (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate finely chopped, divided
  • 1 T. vegetable shortening

Line a 9-x5-inch loaf pan with a piece a foil long enough to drape over the sides. Smooth out any wrinkles.

In the top of a double boiler set over hot water, heat the chocolate, cream and butter until the mixture begins to melt. Remove it from the heat; stir the mixture until melted. Add vanilla extract to the chocolate mixture; stir until combined.

Spoon half of the chocolate mixture into the prepared pan; spread evenly. Freeze until the chocolate layer is firm, about 15 minutes.

Transfer the remaining chocolate mixture to a separate bowl; set aside.

In the top of a double boiler set over hot water, heat the white chocolate chips and raspberry preserves until the mixture begins to melt. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir until melted.

Spread the chocolate-raspberry mixture smoothly and evenly over the chocolate layer. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.

Reheat the remaining chocolate mixture in the top of a double boiler set over warm water. Spread the chocolate evenly over the raspberry layer. Cover it with plastic wrap and freeze until firm, about 1 hour.

Line 2 baking sheets with waxed paper. Lift the chocolate from the pan using the foil over-hang; invert onto a cutting board and remove the foil.

Trim 1/8 inch from each side. Cut the layered candy into 1-inch squares. Place the squares on a prepared baking sheet; freeze.

For the coating, in the top of a double boiler set over hot water, melt the chocolate with shortening, stirring occasionally until smooth, about 5 minutes. Transfer the coating mixture to a small bowl.

Coat the candles, one at a time, and place them on the remaining prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate the coated candles until firm, about 20 minutes.

  • Yields: 1 pound candy
  • Preparation Time: 2 hours
* These candy recipes are not suitable for small children (pieces are small and could be choking hazards) or people with diabetes.

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